The Download Archive

The Download

May 17, 2021

Monday, May 17, 2021

Preparing for Influx of Billions of Dollars in Emergency Funding Heading to MI

There are billions of dollars of emergency funding headed to our state to support communities affected by the pandemic. 

We’re taking a closer look at the latest guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury on usage of these funds and how Michigan philanthropy can help communities prepare for the influx of funding. 

Last week the Department of the Treasury announced the launch of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), to provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, territorial and Tribal governments.

Our state alone will receive close to $11 billion in emergency funding through state and local fiscal recovery funds to support communities and populations hardest hit by the pandemic. 

That is in addition to the $3.7 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds that will go to school districts.

The new guidance issued by the Treasury outlines how State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds may be used. 

Funding can be used to:

•    Address health disparities and the social determinants of health, through funding for community health workers, public benefits navigators, remediation of lead hazards and community violence intervention programs. 

•    Invest in housing and neighborhoods, such as services to homelessness, affordable housing development, housing vouchers and residential counseling and housing navigation assistance.

•    Address educational disparities through new or expanded early learning services, providing additional resources to high-poverty school districts and offering educational services like tutoring or afterschool programs as well as services to address social, emotional and mental health needs.

•    Promoting healthy childhood environments, including new or expanded high quality child care, home visiting programs for families with young children.

CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy Committee (GRPPC) has worked to address the pandemic’s immediate and ongoing impacts, especially the long-standing inequities it has laid bare.

In April, the GRPPC approved a resolution to adopt several of the Michigan Philanthropy COVID-19 Working Group’s Building an Equitable Future Together policy framework priorities for CMF staff to focus advocacy engagement efforts.

Many of the policy priorities include areas where federal funding from the ARPA could be used.

“CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy team will be working to create and understand alignment between the GRPPC’s adopted priorities and the priorities of state lawmakers working to develop plans for appropriating some of the federal funding,” Regina Bell, director of government relations and public policy at CMF said.

GRPPC’s adopted policy priorities include the following:

•    Ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines so that vulnerable populations and impacted communities are prioritized. 

•    Prioritize state-supported behavioral health services. This includes mental health supports for parents and adult caregivers who continue to feel the long-term impacts of the pandemic and social-emotional supports for children.  

•    Address the digital divide. 

•    Preserve and grow child care slots and subsidies for families with low incomes. This includes flexibilities to ensure innovative use of federal funds to grow quality childcare slots, increasing provider reimbursement rates and emphasizing the importance of licensed home programs. 

•    Provide high-quality afterschool and extended learning time options for families beyond the school day—including wraparound services that target under resourced populations with limited options. 

•    Support frontline workers including community health workers, childcare providers, teachers, etc.

•    Help stabilize small businesses and nonprofits, including Minority/Women Business Enterprises (M/WBE) and nonprofits led by people of color. 

Bell shared that CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy team is on hand to support our CMF community and can help in making connections with local units of government and presenting before foundation boards to highlight information regarding the ARPA.

In addition to the state and local fiscal recovery funding through the ARPA, Bell shares that there are other sizeable investments coming in the areas of childcare, rental and utility assistance, mortgage assistance and vaccine administration. 

Bell noted how CMF members can engage when it comes to preparing for the influx of federal funding to best support the communities they serve. 

“This is an opportunity to bring forward innovative uses for the flexible dollars. Michigan philanthropy can be connecting with their local officials including school districts to highlight work they have funded and ensure that their nonprofit partners are at the table. Additionally, with the flexibility of uses, they can be helpful in ensuring community feedback is included in deciding innovative uses that meet community needs,” Bell said. 

Want more?

Questions? Connect with CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy Team.

Read the Department of the Treasury’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds fact sheet.

Read the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Fiscal Brief.

 

 

Unpacking Scholarship Displacement: Supporting MI Students in Retaining Scholarship Dollars

As we recently closed out scholarship season and foundations are beginning to notify students of their awards; we’re taking a closer look at an issue that can affect students who receive scholarship dollars – scholarship displacement.

Scholarship displacement occurs when colleges and universities reduce or remove their institutional gift aid, other scholarships or grants from a student’s financial aid when they receive an external scholarship award for a student that puts the student’s total amount in scholarships above the student’s federally determined financial need or the school’s Cost of Attendance (COA).

Scholarship displacement is an area CMF’s policy team has been researching and exploring for years.

CMF was first made aware of the scholarship displacement issue through CMF’s community foundation CEO network and our Scholarship Learning Community. 

It was shared that community foundations were alerted that scholarships they awarded to some students could not be used because they would either exceed the amount of need identified in the student’s financial aid package or could not be applied to other education-related expenses.

According to Central Scholarship, the impact of scholarship displacement can:

•    Force students with low-income to replace displaced institutional scholarships with loans.

•    Punish students who took the time and effort to find private scholarships.

•    Create a system where privately funded scholarships could provide more benefit to the university than the student, which is not the intent of private scholarships.

"Scholarship displacement most often affects students with financial need and prevents them from getting the full benefit of the scholarships they receive. As a foundation, it's important for us to educate our recipients on scholarship displacement but also look at our internal strategies and policies, allowing for the deferral or reallocation of funds to a semester or year, where it will not be displaced,” Lauren Grevel, senior program office and Youth Advisory Council (YAC) advisor at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation said. 

According to CMF’s 2020 Community Foundation Databook, 27 students reported to their community foundation that scholarship displacement affected them.

Some Michigan foundations are aware of what financial aid offices can do to mitigate scholarship displacement and have developed relationships with financial aid staff at colleges and universities to ensure that foundation scholarships do not displace other gift aid the student already received.

“Our staff, community partners and donors share the goal of wanting to build equity in access to postsecondary education, so addressing and mitigating scholarship displacement is a strategy that is important to us,” Hannah Rodriguez, program office and YAC advisor for the Manistee Community Foundation said. The Manistee Community Foundation has worked with their local community college on this issue.

“We have had the opportunity to work closely with the financial aid office and other staff at our local community college and think about how we can ensure students receiving this particular scholarship award can maximize the use of these funds in combination with federal, state, institutional and other local awards. These discussions have informed our conversations with donors as well as our scholarship award processes,” Rodriguez said. 

Over the last few years, CMF’s policy team has been researching and exploring the issue of scholarship displacement: 

•    In 2019, CMF and the Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) met with representatives from the Governor’s education policy team and the Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU) to discuss the issue of scholarship displacement.

•    In 2020, MASU drafted a set of practice-change recommendations that both financial aid officers and foundation staff could implement to mitigate scholarship award displacement.

•    During Foundations on the Hill 2020, CMF brought the issue to the attention of federal policymakers, some of whom took interest and have followed up with CMF to learn more.

In February 2021, MASU, the Michigan Association of State Universities and CMF convened a group of financial aid directors and foundation scholarship staff to review and revise that set of recommendations to create more clarity for implementation. 
 

CMF is continuing to work with partners to provide resources in support of our CMF community around the issue of scholarship displacement.
 

CMF’s Government Relations Public Policy team is leveraging the leadership of the Michigan Community Foundations Youth Project (MCFYP) Committee in raising awareness about the issue of scholarship displacement among Michigan youth.
 

CMF and MCFYP have partnered to create a resource kit for foundations to share with their networks and youth, outlining an overview of the issue and what students and families need to know. CMF and MCFYP are also developing a social media campaign. 

“We want to remain flexible when our recipients experience displacement and remain committed to ensuring that our donor's intent is met throughout the awarding process. The advocacy work and resources being developed by CMF will help all foundations with consistent messaging as well as policy change across the board,” Grevel said. 
 

CMF will continue to support and partner with our members to gather more data to better understand the issue and find viable and permanent solutions to mitigate scholarship displacement.

Want more?

Access the Scholarship Displacement Resource Kit and share messaging with your network.

Questions? Please contact the Government Relations Public Policy team. 

 

 

Partnering to Advance Racial Equity and End Homelessness 

A wide range of philanthropic institutions around the country are partnering to advance racial equity in their homelessness and housing work. 

Funders Together to End Homelessness, a national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative and effective solutions to homelessness, announced the individuals who will join the second cohort of Foundations for Racial Equity (FRE). 

Vanessa Samuelson, director of learning and research at the McGregor Fund, is among thirty individuals representing foundations in the cohort. 

Basic needs and housing are a focus area for the McGregor Fund. 

According to a press release, the cohort will work at “national and local levels to build relationships with other funders, learn together about systemic racism in housing and homelessness and lead the field in creating a more equitable world.” 

In addition to advancing racial equity in ending homelessness, over the next two years the FRE participants will: 

•    Learn about how other funders are applying a racial equity lens to their housing and homelessness grantmaking and are operationalizing racial equity in their organizations.

•    Shift their own practices to invest their dollars, time and influence in changing the homelessness and housing systems to make them more equitable and just.

•    Articulate a collective action to help build the philanthropic field working to advance racial equity in preventing and ending homelessness.

Ultimately, the goal is to share learned insights with the field of philanthropy to help advance this work. 

Want more?

Learn more about the work of the McGregor Fund.

Learn more about Foundations for Racial Equity.

 

 

Accessing the Child Tax Credit: What You Need to Know

Title and content excerpted and adapted from an original press release. 

Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan has launched a new website offering step-by-step guidance for parents to ensure they receive the expanded Child Tax Credit. 

The website outlines how parents could be eligible, how to get the expanded Child Tax Credit and includes a list of frequently asked questions. 

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) includes:

•    Increased Child Tax Credit to $3,600 per year for children under 6 years old. 

•    $3,000 per year for children 6-17 years old.

Therefore, a single parent with a 4-year-old and 7-year-old would receive $6,600. 

The tax credit does not count as additional income that could affect eligibility for public assistance. The expanded Child Tax Credit will be paid out in regular payments rather than once a year, with monthly payments from the IRS of $250-$300 per child expected to start in July. 

The first step to receive the tax credit is to file taxes for 2020. Parents of children under 18 may be eligible to receive this money, even if they have not previously filed taxes and have low or no earnings.

This expansion of the Child Tax Credit is temporary; the American Rescue Plan has put it in effect for one year.

Want more?

Check out the website and share with your networks. 

Read the full press release. 
 

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